Discrimination on the grounds of sex, racial and ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, disability, language, age and sexual orientation constitute significant reasons for the inequality and exclusion of certain population groups from the labour market, from employment and from education; it frequently leads to marginalization and poverty. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that the legislation regarding discrimination and equal treatment is fully implemented. At the same time, systematic and efficient actions are required in order to eliminate dominant stereotypes, to change the current attitudes and to deal with the challenge of accepting diversity in the fields of employment and education.

During the current period of recession and as a result of the problems caused in the labour market, the progress that has taken place so far, as regards the practical implementation of the equal treatment principle, seems to be at stake and the prospect of regress is visible. Xenophobic tendencies are observed while there are intentions of discriminatory treatment even of EU workers as a means of tackling unemployment. In general, women, migrants, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, younger or elderly people and persons belonging to a religious or ethnic minority are more likely to experience discrimination at work and in the labour market, in general.
However, the principle of equal treatment is a fundamental human right, acknowledged by the European Union and by every democratic state. For this reason and despite the current difficult times, our vision remains the fulfillment of equal treatment through the constant combating of discrimination, in, inter alia, the workplace, occupation and vocational training, both in the public and in the private sector. The ongoing combating of discrimination is the most efficient tool in achieving the strengthening of social cohesion and coexistence.

Eleni Hadjittofi
First Officer, Office of the Commissioner of Administration and Protection of Human Rights
Responsible of the Equality issues

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